One day after preaching to multitudes in the English country side John Wesley was asked if he believed that all the people who he preached to would indeed change and lead holy lives. He said that he knew that most of the people would never change and were only going through an emotional experience. When asked if he was part of the bride of Christ he said that such a bride really did exist but that he was not a part of the invisible bride, but of the visible one because of his worldliness. He explained that the visible church is that institution which the world can see as the body and the bride of Jesus Christ, but that there is another institution which is not seen and is almost invisible, which even he has not seen but knows about. This institution or body makes up the real bride of Jesus Christ, holy and without spot or wrinkle.
After reading this I had to ask myself if I was even a part of the visible one never mind the invisible one. If John Wesley who is one of the most famous of the founding fathers of Christianity did not consider himself worthy of really being part of the bride of Christ, imagine me. But then I remembered that Billy Graham had said almost the same thing when asked if he thought that all the people who made confession of Christ at his crusades really went on to live Christian lives. He said that they had kept track of some of these same people and that according to their records only about five to ten percent really went on to becoming practicing Christians.
In Song of the Bride by Jeanne Guyon, she writes that there must be a visible church in order to protect the invisible church. Since God is a jealous God he does not want people peeking at her or trying to molest his bride, so few get to see the real bride of Christ. But the visible bride or church gets to be seen by everyone including satan the deceiver. It is this church that acts as a barrier against the wiles of the devil and his minions. Jeanne Guyon tells us that the visible church acts as the thorns on the rose bush in order to protect the roses, or a cactus protecting the lilies. This is the church which also gets the attention of the unbelieving media and the attacks of the devil while leaving the hidden one to rest and worship the Lord while they wait for His return.
To the unbelieving world every time there is a new scandal in the visible church it is a time of celebration. They can point out how the new hero preacher of the day went off with one of his flock and left his wife, or the TV evangelist who is now in prison for taking church funds and lying to the feds about it. To them it is a sign that God is not real and Jesus never died on the cross for men. What they fail to realize is that this is exactly what God wants, for them to look at this mess and think they are so clever at having seen the naked bride with all her imperfection's. But the true bride of Christ will never be seen by them or even believers who think like them.
So who or what makes up this invisible bride? This is the church that suffers along with Jesus for what is going on in the world. They are also treated by the Father the same way He treated Jesus and allowed Him to die on the cross. This is a crucified body of believers who have been stripped of pride and vanity. They are not self-centered and selfish, having lost the desire for pomp and self-glory. Of them it can be said as Paul the Apostle wrote in Galatians 2:20, I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son Of God who loved me and gave himself for me. Colossians 3:3, For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life, appears then you also will appear with him in Glory.
Galatians 6:14, Paul speaking. "May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world."
Hebrew 12:5-6, My son do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son.
Romans 8:16-18 Now if we are children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and coheirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory. I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
1 Peter 4:13 Dear friends do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed
From these verses we understand that there is more to being a Christian than give me this or I want this from Jesus. In the visible bride or church everything is one sided, mostly what can I get today from God to make me richer, happier and a fuller person. This is the way people are taught by the new wave of prosperity preachers and movie star evangelist. The thought is that Jesus died to make you happy and prosperous so you can share you wealth and success with your bible teacher or pastor. But in fact what God has written is the opposite of this. He wants to kill everything about you and make you a new creature. John 3:3, that is why Jesus said that anyone who did not pick up his cross and follow him was not his. The word cross here means death, you are to see yourself dead on the cross to your old life style on a daily bases. 2nd Corinthians 5:17
The worldly bride wants to live here on earth enjoying everything the unbelieving world enjoys and even out doing them in greed. She is always in transition and this is where God gets converts to fill up his invisible bride. When someone in the visible bride begins to wonder if there could be more to God than the Sunday sermon about the blessings, she or he has caught the attention of God the Father. If the person is real, and this is a big If, a transition well soon take place and God well take that person for his own and hide him far from the worldly teachers and pastors.
To be honest that persons problems have just gone up by 100 %. The same way the Lords life on earth was full of strive, so well this new believer's life be full of problems. . But in the end he or she will be a perfect instrument to be used for whatever God desires. Romans 8:18, I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
A very good scripture to remember is John 12:24, I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies it remains only a single seed. But if it dies it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Jesus is the good seed who died and produced many other seeds that must also die in order to keep producing more seeds, which are the souls of men.
The Lord never said it would be easy and that he had come to make you a better person. No, he said you would be a new creation that had never existed before. But in order to be a new person the old person had to die. The visible church would never stand for this death for it wants to live and live well.
About Author / Additional Info: